I share the following thoughts with you because I am deeply concerned about how stressed some of you are under during these days of the pandemic. Not that I have any particular solutions, but I want you to know I am aware of the stress and that my heart and ears are open to you.
This weekend, we get back to our “more normal” routine of life as summer is ending and school begins. I know-I know there is no normal right now and the “new normal” is waiting definition. I know all that, but I wanted to do some reflection on moving to the next season of the year. Summer has always been a great time to pull back, change the pace of our lives; and break from the rou-tine that leads us through the course of the week. It’s a great time to find some moments for relaxation, for the savoring the warmth of the day and just being with family and friends, even when we social distanced this year. I hope that amid so much abnormal this summer you had some “down time”.
Summer vacation is to the year what Sunday ought to be to the week; a time to withdraw from normal activity and to realize that all of life is a gift of God. We are indeed stewards of creation, and the Lord expects us to be mindful of God’s presence in our lives. Everything we have and are is a gift from God.
Unfortunately, our culture is losing the value of the “withdrawing and re-laxing” from regular activity, which has been particularly challenging during these days of the pandemic. Our scriptural tradition speaks about the Sabbath day, the Lord’s Day, the day of rest. The translation of the word “Sabbath” is properly rendered: “withdrawing.” We “withdraw “from the normal work-a-day world to celebrate our relationship to God and one another and with God’s crea-tion. Giving ourselves “space” and a break from our normal routines allows us to reflect upon God’s desire for a relationship with us. So often, we find our-selves so busy carrying on the duties of daily life that we can lose focus. Some-times, we forget why we are doing these things in the first place. God gave us the Sabbath so we would always have one day of our week to remember who we are and where we have come from and why we are upon this earth.
Unfortunately, the culture in which we live does not honor the Sabbath. In fact, for many, Sunday is no different from other days of the week in so many ways. In normal, nonpandemic times, the malls are open, stores are ready to do business with us, many businesses operate seven days a week, add to this the 24/7 web-based shopping. I realize there are service businesses that exist for the purpose of helping people. I am concerned about the wholesale forget-fulness that we sometimes seem to exhibit. We human beings need at least one day every week to withdraw from our “normal activities” and to relax in the loving arms of God and one another.
It’s a shame that our Sabbath is being gobbled up by galloping commer-cialism and frantic activity. Summer vacation may be the last vestige that we have of what it means to relax, withdraw, and allow God to refresh us. Again, I realize all of this is colored by the pandemic we are in the midst of and all the extras people are challenged with, especially parents of young children who have had school teacher added to their responsibilities. I hope you have been graced with some sort of vacation this summer using it as a kind of Sabbath. A special period of allowing yourself to let go of the urgencies that so often flood our minds and hearts; of the busyness that crowds our activities and keeps us at times from even remembering why we are so active and so busy in the first place.
As we begin with the fall season, I invite you to think about how you spend your Sabbath every week. What are we losing by not taking a day of rest every week? God wants us to have the space and the time to relax; to rest in the divine love and mercy, to cuddle up in God’s lap as a child might do with its parent. Doing so knowing that the weight of the world is not really on our backs, even though at times it feels like it is. It is a time to be secure in the knowledge that this is God’s world, that, if we do our small part, God will do the rest.
I pray you receive these thoughts with the same love they are shared!
Let us continue to pray for and take action to bring about peace in our world!
In peace and courage,